Heads down, shoulders stooped, the mighty 5’11’’ Jhulan Goswami looked a shadow of her former self as she made the long walk back to the dressing room. Inoka Ranaweera made no mistake as she held on to the catch at short midwicket from Goswami’s mistimed shot. The hosts, at one stage, were placed at a precarious 69/5. Goswami’s wicket put paid to any hope of an Indian recovery. Despair, disaster, dead end!
It was curtains for the Indian women as they were knocked out in the group stages for the first time in a World Cup. The Sri Lankans, who played as a unit, turned giant-killers for the second time (having beaten England in the opener) as they defeated Mithali Raj & Co by a whopping 138 runs in their final league encounter at the Brabourne Stadium on Tuesday. By registering their first-ever win over India in 18 ODIs, the Lankans joined England and West Indies in the Super Six stage.
From losing the toss to the top-order collapse, the hosts got everything wrong. Not only were they bowled out for a paltry 144, chasing a mammoth 283, they even failed to get the required 251 to qualify for the next stage. They lost out to the West Indies on a poor run-rate.
It was an anti-climax for the hosts, who started the tournament with a bang. Their campaign fell apart after the 32-run loss to England. The cracks got wider on Tuesday and the flaws were out in the open as they were outplayed in every department. Barring Mithali’s brief blitz and Reema Malhotra and Goswami’s spirited batting effort — the latter grabbed her 150th ODI wicket too —, the Indians had little to cherish.
Call it complacency, over-confidence, or sheer bad luck, the hosts looked off-colour right from the time they stepped on to the field.
Four of Sri Lanka’s top five batswomen notched up half-centuries. If the graceful Deepika Rasangika (84) charmed the eye, Eshani Kaushalya, quite often mistaken as Arjuna Ranatunga’s replica, was all about brute power. The match-winner in the previous game against England, Kaushalya came to the fore again with her blitzkrieg 31-ball 56.
India’s top-order, on the other hand, failed to fire when it mattered most. Falling to poor shots and some outrageous running, the hosts made a mockery of the chase. Malhotra and Goswami managed to resist briefly but it was only a matter of time before Sri Lanka completed the formalities.
Brief scores: Sri Lanka 282/5 in 50 overs (H Rasangika 84, H Siriwardene 59; J Goswami 3/63) bt India 144 all out (R Malhotra 38; C Seneviratna 2/10, H Siriwardene 2/20) by 138 runs